Some works and words from alumni...
A Memory of Boca Raton
Memories are like gumbo served in a darkened Louisiana roadhouse: it is best not to stir
them -- or at least not until you've had a Jax or two.
I rarely think about the five years that I spent at Boca High. Although I didn't face the
profound and awful calamities that secretly devoured some of you, I never considered my
adolescence a time of sweet and happy youth. As with most teen-aged boys, I was
graceless, blundering, and without even the vaguest inkling.
But some aspects of those years do linger pleasantly.
Scent holds the memory of a place. I cannot peel a grapefruit or cut a mango without a
torrent of remembrance pouring over me. There was a smell of Boca: the flower-smell of
jasmine when I ran at night, the sea-scent of the inlet, the spice-scent of my parents'
cupboard, the fruit-scent of Surinam cherries and papayas. Sometimes I will stand in the
grocery breathing a double handful of guavas and be transported a thousand miles and three
decades. And I will confess that I have sniffed English Leather and Canoe at Wal-Mart, and
felt pimples breaking out.
There were tastes: fresh-caught grouper, grilled; black beans; hot Cuban bread; the pitchers
of limeade that my father would lovingly prepare for me after football practice; the flat,
warm film of cafeteria milk.
I have stood in the surf on St. Martins and on the Plage Graniers... that sound... that sound.
I could travel to Chima Tosa and beyond, and still the rhythm of the surf would take me to
Boca Raton, 1969. But there were also the sounds of A.M. and LP: Laurendo Almeida and
Joni Mitchell late at night on "China's Thing"; the energetic bleat of WQAM from a VW's
radio; each new Beatles album played again and again and again.
And there were other rich senses. Ladies of the Class of 1969, I am certain that the decades
have bestowed upon you a patina of loveliness and character and grace. As I looked through
our class photographs, my heart was broken anew by your exquisite, impossible beauty:
orchids and hyacinths and love-lies-bleeding. Ah, if you had only known me in a year or
two! In college, I became sure and cool - not at all mortified about actually speaking to a
Even that was many years ago. I have been married to a beautiful and clever woman for a
quarter of a century. I live in a pleasant little college town and have a seven-year-old son
who is my heart's delight. I have been to strange and wonderful places and done bold and
satisfying things. And I never, ever make it further south than Blue Mountain Beach or
Still, there our times when I lie in bed in the darkness and almost hear the whistle of the
City of Miami or the East Coast Champion, trains that passed in our night, taking us from
one dream and toward another. Still, there are times when the colors of a Japanese lantern or
a passing riff from a Young Rascals' tune will stir up my bowl of roadhouse gumbo - and it
is always tastier than I ever remembered.
Class of 1969
We've received a lot of wonderful response concerning Chuck's essay. If you'd like to drop
him a line and let him know just how his writing made you feel, he can be reached at
I Remember Boca!